The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” John 7:45-46
The words of the temple guards were humble yet powerful. The guards didn’t arrogantly say, “You scoundrels, you want to kill the man who is from God.” Instead, the guards remained humble and deferred to the authority of the chief priests and Pharisees. They didn’t grab their swords or resort to force. They remained servants who knew their place. Their dispute was not about earthly matters. They didn’t raise themselves higher than they were. Their dispute concerned the spiritual realm. The heart of the matter was that the faith and beliefs of the temple guards were different from those of the Pharisees. They refused to go along with the Pharisees.
We must distinguish between civil and spiritual authority. A servant shouldn’t run away from his master even though one believes differently from the other. God doesn’t want them separated. The servant shouldn’t resist or murmur against the master but should recognize his authority. Even though the servant humbly serves his master, he has still another Master—Christ, who is Lord over the conscience and soul. Christ also should be served, for the earthly master has no authority over the servant’s conscience. The servant can say to his master, “I have put myself in your service with body, hand, and foot, but not with my conscience. I don’t get paid for learning God’s Word and believing in it. In spiritual matters, I am free. There, I answer to someone else.”
So if two people disagree about what to believe, they should remain unified in external matters of the world even though they may be divided in matters of faith and conscience.
In the late afternoon of April 18, 1521, in the city of Worms, Germany, Martin Luther, a 37 year-old Catholic monk was called to defend himself before Charles the Fifth, the Holy Roman Emperor. The speech he delivered that day, Here I Stand, marked the beginning of the Reformation, a critical turning point in Christian history that decisively altered the spiritual map of the world. In this recording, Max McLean introduces the events leading up to the Diet of Worms; Martin Luther’s prayer the night before he delivered his speech; Luther’s stirring defense; the Catholic church’s rebuttal; and, Luther’s final heartfelt response.